May 30, 2017

Slovenia: Tiny but Beautiful!

From the Adriatic coast to the mountains of the Alps, tiny Slovenia is one of Europe’s most impressive countries and yet one of its best kept secrets.

Wedged at the crossroads of Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia, Slovenia is a unique blend of each country. Roughly the size of New Jersey, the surprises waiting for visitors include beaches, rolling green countryside, quaint Alpine villages, interesting architecture, snow-capped mountains and a multitude of outdoor activities.

I’ve never been to Slovenia but here are 7 reasons I would visit Slovenia!

1.  Beautiful coast along the Adriatic

Sitting on a beach in Piran you’ll feel like you could be on the French Riviera or Italy but you’re actually enjoying the beauty of the Adriatic from Slovenia! Piran is home to lovely views, rolling vineyards and a wonderful Italian cuisine but not the hordes of people, yet!!

 

Piran Sailboats Slovenia

Piran Sailboats Slovenia author: Ubald Trnkoczy from Slovenia Tourist Board

2.  Wine

The hills near the Austrian border are full of vineyards producing wonderful Slovenian wine! The last few years have seen a huge growth in the quality and quantity of wine produced here. At the same time, tasting rooms and Vinoteka’s have popped up all over Maribor’s streets.

3.  Fairy Tale Castles

There are hundreds of castles in Slovenia. Some rest on hills overlooking towns, cling precariously to the side of a mountain, sit in the middle of lakes and rivers while even others are linked to underground caverns.

 

Predjama Castle Slovenia

Predjama Castle Slovenia by Ayack wikimedia

4)  Cities

The cities of Slovenia are traditional and charming. Ljubljana, the capital, is a blend of Old World charm and contemporary energy. The picturesque medieval city of Skofja Loka is nestled amongst green rolling hill, Piran still has its town wall and Ptuj is the countries oldest city.

 

Skofja Loka Slovenia

Skofja Loka Slovenia from wikimedia

5.  Alpine Mountains

The Julian Alps are a mountain lover’s paradise full of hiking, climbing, skiing and other outdoor activities.  It is here you’ll find inspiration in Triglav National Park home to the highest peak in Slovenia, Mt Triglav ( 9,396 feet).  The lakes, rivers, mountains, villages and flowers of the Julian Alps create a picture perfect spot to unwind and enjoy nature.

 

Alpine Valley Slovenia

Alpine Valley Slovenia by Matijap wikimedia

6.  Caves

Not only is Slovenia beautiful above ground but it shines underground too! With over 8,800 caves, Slovenia has more than its share of caves. The world’s longest cave, Postojna Cave, will take your breath away and the underground canyon in Skocjan Cave is amazing. But these two caves are just the tip of the iceberg!

7.  Rivers and Lakes

The rivers and lakes of Slovenia only add to its charm. Famous Lake Bled is probably the most photographed place in the country but is still a tranquil spot especially since motor boats aren’t allowed. Bigger Bohinj Lake is pristine and surrounded by stunning mountains and some say the Soca River is Europe’s prettiest. The emerald water of the river allow for great rafting, kayaking and fishing while the lakes are great places for hiking and biking.

 

Lake Bled Slovenia

Lake Bled Slovenia author: J. Skok from Slovenia Tourist Board

 

 

What do you think, is Slovenia worth the visit?

Exploring the Alps via National Parks

One of Europe’s greatest mountain range is The Alps which stretch 750 miles from Slovenia in the east through Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany before ending in France in the west.  These mountains are known for their towering peaks, expansive glaciers, green meadows, wildflowers and wildlife.  There may be no better way to experience the Alps than in one of the protected National Parks.

Here are six National Parks you’ll find while exploring the Alps!

Lake Bohinj with church Triglav National Park Slovenia

Lake Bohinj with church by Rosino

Known for its scenery, hiking and skiing is the Triglav National Park in Slovenia.  This area is full of picture postcard moments including craggy mountains, glacial Lake Bohinj, Soca and Sava Rivers, wild flowers and waterfalls.  Experience the park through the Slovenian Alpine Museum or its hiking and biking trails.  Mountaineering is also popular.

Nationalpark Hohe Tauern - Krimmler Wasserfälle Austria

Nationalpark Hohe Tauern - Krimmler Wasserfälle by thisisbossi, on Flickr

Crossing into Austria you’ll find more amazing mountains as you enter the Alpine region.  One of Austria’s National Parks is the Hohe Tauern National Park.  Covering 708 square miles the park is the largest nature reserve in the Alps and home to beautiful glaciers, valley’s, tundra, clear lakes, gold mines and waterfalls.  The mountains, lakes, rivers and meadows are home to chamois, alpine ibex and golden eagles.  Enjoy the park on one of the wonderful hiking trails or by a guided tour which are offered during the summer.

Valle Imperina Dolomati National Park Italy

Valle Imperina by Andrea Omizzolo, on Flickr

The Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park in Italy is most known for the varied hiking, flora, wildlife, cliffs, ravines and stunning mountains.  The park is home to springs, two lakes and streams full of trout.  The Dolomite’s are some of the most beautiful and dramatic mountains in all of Europe.  This park located in the south east Alps and is also home to many Karst formations including the largest cave in Italy.

Autumn in Berchtesgaden National Park Germany

Autumn in Berchtesgaden National Park by springm / Markus Spring, on Flickr

On the border with Austria is the Berchtesgaden National Park.  The southern corner of Germany is home to one of the country’s tallest mountains, the Watzmann, which shadows over stunning Lake Konigsee.  The park is full of wonderful hiking and cycling trails both in the valley and at high altitudes where you may see ibex, eagles and marmots along with beautiful wild flowers.  Berchtesgaden National Park is known for its stunning alpine scenery and there is no better place to experience this than taking the Jenner cable car up to the edge of the park!

Swiss National Park Switzerland

Swiss National Park by Hansueli Krapf

The Swiss National Park is known for its hiking trails and alpine scenery.  The only national park in Switzerland has over 21 hiking trails spread over 50 miles.  The routes range in difficulty from easy to Alpine trails requiring technical equipment.  While enjoying the park keep your eyes open for golden eagles, bearded vultures and chamois.

View from the Roc du Tambour Vanoise National Park France

View from the Roc du Tambour by Matthieu LIENART, on Flickr

One of the most popular outdoor areas in France is Vanoise National Park.  The beautiful mountain scenery is splendid during any season. The park is a haven for skiers during the winter while summer is a delight to hikers.  While in the park you may see alpine ibex, chamois and other animals.

Would you visit a National Park in the Alps?

This post is being shared in celebration of Earth Day as part of a Nature Travel roundup. Check our more “Natural” adventures at the Green Global Traveler!